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UAW 1112 to vote Thursday on GM contract

LORDSTOWN — Members of United Auto Workers Local 1112 will vote Thursday on a tentative agreement bargainers with the international union struck with General Motors that makes certain the automaker’s assembly plant in Lordstown will close.

It’s not expected the deal announced Wednesday will get much support from people who still belong to Local 1112, nor from those former members who transferred to other GM plants since the company announced last year its plans for the facility and others in North America.

“For Local 1112 members, I don’t see many of them voting yes basically because all of our hopes and dreams were based on this negotiation,” said Tim O’Hara, president of Local 1112.

Voting is 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the union hall in North Jackson. The international union wants voting wrapped up by Friday.

About 500 people remain members of Local 1112. Some 1,200 people who formerly worked at the plant belong to locals elsewhere in the U.S. because they transferred to other GM plants. They held hope negotiators could convince GM to assign a new vehicle production line to the plant that went idle in March, but that was not the case.

“I think the vast majority will vote no, no matter where they are located,” O’Hara said. “A lot of people left their family members behind anticipating one day they could return. If the contract passes, that option is gone … many of them will have to sell their houses and pull up stakes and go to wherever GM sent them.”

The tentative deal gives workers a mix of pay raises, lump-sum payments and an $11,000 signing bonus.

In exchange, the contract allows for GM to close Lordstown and powertrain plants in Warren, Mich., and near Baltimore. The Detroit Hamtramck plant, which GM wanted to close, will stay open and a new electric pickup truck will be built there.

The vote was set for Wednesday, but pushed back a day by the international union, which had a general threat made against it. Other locals have a police presence at their halls during meetings, but O’Hara said he doesn’t expect there to be any issues with Local 1112.

“Obviously, there is a lot of emotions and anger right now, but we don’t anticipate anything where police have to step in and be involved,” O’Hara said.

Meanwhile, the local is “still in the dark,” O’Hara said, about GM’s desire to sell the plant to Lordstown Motors Corp., which wants the facility to produce battery-powered electric pickup trucks.

Its founder and CEO, Steve Burns, has said he wants the UAW in the plant. If that comes to pass, O’Hara said he wants it to be Local 1112, but “that’s a bridge we will cross if we get there.”

GM is also proposing an electric battery cell manufacturing plant in or near Lordstown, but information is scarce on that proposal.

It would employ about 1,000 workers and be a UAW-represented facility. Lordstown Motors would initially employ about 400 workers to produce the truck that’s been named Endurance.

rselak@tribtoday.com